During the Great War almost 10,000 military, merchant and fishing vessels were sunk. Long neglected by maritime specialists, historians and archaeologists, this subaquatic heritage is a rich source of information which has nonetheless suffered substantial damage over the past century as a result of levelling operations, industrial development and unauthorised scrap recovery. In the 1980s, the archaeologists from the Department for sub-aquatic and submarine archaeological research (DRASSM) began the task of compiling an inventory of these underwater relics, organising a system of protection and beginning to study some of the wrecks.